Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This has nothing to with Wordle, but I don't know where else to say this:

I reject and abhor those who would deprive my fellow citizens of their equal status under the law. These people couch their bigotry and fear in carefully crafted bullshit.

It's time, once again, for the courts to stand for justice, and to strike down these outrageous laws, which deprive people of their rights.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Many folks have asked for a Wordle that fits into a shape. Others have asked for “clickable” Wordles, which could be used for navigation. I’m happy to say that someone (who identifies himself only as “Alex”) has created a service that meets both of those needs. I’m not endorsing his site; I’m just letting folks know about it.


It requires signing up with either a new Tagul account, or via some OpenID provider, so I can’t provide a demo here. As you might have guessed from the way Wordle works, I don’t like signing up for toys.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How to make Wordle safe for classroom use.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from Becky Foellmer, of Lakeview Jr. High in Downers Grove, IL. She suggested:

Since it is very easy to set most networks to block specific sites, blocking the gallery at is a simple process. That eliminates the concern of students seeing inappropriate content there. Then […] instead of having the latest examples showing on your homepage (which could easily contain inappropriate content), you could simply put up several samples of your choosing that are appropriate. This, I believe, would allow those of us in the field of education to much more comfortably utilize your site within our classrooms.

This seemed to me to strike an excellent balance, in that it’s something I actually have time to get done, and it’s practical for educators, I hope. Therefore, I’m happy to announce that from now on, the Wordle front page will never feature images or links that are inappropriate for classroom use. It's now possible to configure an institution's "site-blocking" software to keep Wordle safe for classroom use.

Simply have your networking administrator block the following base URLs1:


and your users will not see anything that's not safe for classrooms. You’ll still be able to save your work, bookmark your individual Wordle creations, print them out, and share the URLs of saved Wordles with each other and with families.

Please let me know whether this works out for you in your school or other institution.

1By "base URL" I mean: "block all URLs that begin with the given text", and not merely those literal URLs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aloha, Kaimuki

I was delighted to see that Honolulu's Kaimuki Public Library is using Wordle as the basis for a weekly contest. What I particularly like is that nobody felt it necessary to explain what a Wordle is.

Be Creative: Play Wordle

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My 5 Words of Fame

As you may know, Wordle won both the Webby and the People's Voice Webby for Best Use of Typography at this year's Webby awards. In order to maximize their income from entrance fees and winner's tickets (many hundreds of dollars), they have an inordinate quantity of categories. They make a virtue of their scammy excesses by strictly limiting winners' speeches to 5 words.

Imagine my chagrin when the very first winner went up on stage and recited the 5-word address I'd planned.

This is the best I could do under time pressure. I'm not sure whether I ought to have had more to drink, or less.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Word Vader

I was putting my son to bed, and I said, "I feel like writing a computer program, but I don't have any ideas," and he said, "make something that draws Star Wars characters with words," and I had most of the code for that kind of thing lying around, and here it is.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wordles and the Inaugural Addresses

In the days after the inauguration of #44, I saw many, many blog posts and newspaper stories featuring Wordles of the inaugural address. In my opinion, while they are lovely enough, they don’t really address what makes one person’s words distinctive. To see if I could do any better, I spent a couple of days making Comparisons of Inaugural Addresses.

thumbnail of lLincoln's 2nd inaugural


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Graph of Wordle usage on inaguration day

In addition restoring the rule of law and implicitly repudiating torture, preemptive war, and being stupid on government property, Barack Obama has also driven an amazing amount of traffic to Wordle today.

Thanks, #44.